A 3D model of the Venetians ships [MP1]



The goal of this project is to build a 3D model of a Venetian ship, including interior and exterior design. The model will be a Galeazza from the battle of Lepanto. This battle took place on 7  October 1571 between the Ottoman Empire and a coalition of the catholic southern european states. The biggest part of the european ships were issued by the Republic of Venice which thus played an important role for the victory of the so called Holy League. As a matter of fact, the defeated Ottoman Empire started to renew its fleet with ships whoose design was heavilly inspired by the Venetian battle force. The battle of Lepanto was the last important naval battle of the Mediterranean Sea fought entirely by galleys.

The Galeazza:

The Venetian Galeazza are propulsed by rowers as well as by sails. This allows them to be highly maneuverable and independent. One of their biggest advantages is however that they can be built frame-first instead of hull-first (the building process used earlier on). This allows for a faster and more timber efficient production. The Venetian Arsenale, with its assembly line structure, was indeed one of the first mass production sites in Europe and was capable of building and equipping one galley per day.

The typical Venetian Galeazza was three-masted and had up to 32 oars, each worked by up to 5 oarsmen. In addition to the high manoeuvrability, these ships were also characterized by a deadly firepower. In fact, they could transport up to 16 cannons, each of them worked by two men.

Modeling approach

For our project, we decided to model just one ship, but to reproduce it as detailed as possible, in such a way that model’s parts can be reused for other reproductions. Before starting the modeling process, the following steps need to be taken into account:

  • Data gathering
  • Tools to realize the 3D-modeling
  • Process of modeling

Data gathering:

The data gathering includes collecting data about the measurements of the ship, the materials and colors, the textures, the proportions etc. It also includes getting data about the goods and loads that were stocked in the ship, which provides details about the distribution of weights in its body. Plans and books will serve as primary sources for getting information. The two books Le galee mediterranee [1] and Duri I banchi [2] provide a good overview of different ships built in Venice. However, since we are focusing on a specific ship of the Battle of Lepanto’s period, we need to get more detailed information about the galleass used during this historical context. The book Naval Warfare Under Oars, 4th to 16th Centuries: A Study of Strategy, Tactics and Ship Design [3] provides good information about ships as well, but whole plans are not included. Thus in order to get detailed plans with exact measurements, our first step will be to go the Arsenale di Venezia to look for galleass plans in the archive. We will also focus on paintings to get knowledge about the colors and the embellishments from the outside of the ships. A further idea is to contact Venetian ship modelers and ask them for more information. In this way, we might also have the oppotyunity to take a look at some handmade models and take pictures of them.

3D-modeling tools:

The tools for realizing the 3D-modeling will be classical CAD-programs. It is planned to use AutoCAD and/or SolidWorks. Both programs should be able to afford this kind of 3D-modelling and, in the beginning, we will use both applications. Depending on the compatibility of the exchange files provided by them and on the simplicity of the 3D-application, the further use of theThe Galeazza CAD’s will be decided in the process of modeling.


Figure 1: Section of a ship (schematic) with stages of construction.

Modeling process:

The modeling of the galleass will be developed in a similar way to the steps used to build a real ship. Thus, we will basically start from the exterior and then we will move to the interior. The scheme in Figure 1 shows the different stages of construction.

First, we start to create the keel (1), which builds the longitudinal form of the body. After that, or even at the mean time, the different sections of the body are designed. By adding all the sections on the keel, it should be possible to create the whole hull (2). Therefore, we will design the deck (3)  and add it to the model, so fulfilling the main exterior body of the galleass. Having completed this, we can start to model the interior (4) of the galeazza by creating the floor and the internal wall, as well as several utensils (such as cannons, rudder and barrels) that will be placed in the hold later on. Finally the masts (5), the sails and ropes will be added, as well as additional superstructures like the captain’s cabin, the aftercastle and the frontcastle. Decoration, textures and colors will be added at the end of the modeling process, when more detailed information will be gathered.


The milestones for next semester are summarized in the following chart.


Table 1: Timetable for next Term

As it is reported in the first line, the data gathering process will continue throughout the whole project. In this way, we will have enough information to model every part of the ship in detail.

Project deliverables

The result of the project will be a complete assembly of a Venetian Galeazza from the epoche of the Lepanto Battle. Additionally we will provide the different parts used for this assembly. Those parts might be reused for similar models of ships and the files will be provided in several kinds of formats to allow an easy reusage.

What makes this project different from the usual 3D reproduction of ancient galleys is that we will not limit our work to the modeling of the external part of the ship. In fact, as we stressed in the introduction, our aim is also to achieve a good and reliable reproduction of the internal part of the galleass. As this will be done in engineering CAD software, this result could yield valuable information on the load distribution of a typical ship from the Venetian epoch, as well as estimates of the tonnage and the center of gravity of the galleass.

Having a complete model of such a ship will also allow for physics simulation that could be usefull to get an estimate of the speed of those galleass as well as their load capacity. It will also be possible to have a taste of life on such a ship by putting a virtual camera on the inside and render what a person on board would see.

Prezi presentation:



[1] Guido Ercole, Le galee mediterranee, Gruppo Modellisticio Trentino, 2008.
[2] Guido Ercole, Duri i banchi!, Gruppo Modellisticio Trentino, 2008.
[3] William Ledyard Rogers, Naval Warfare Under Oars, 4th to 16th Centuries: A Study of Strategy, Tactics and Ship Design, Naval Institute Press, 1939.